"Be Prepared:" The Boy Scout motto is especially appropriate when applied to camping. All outdoor activities -- especially those involving unknown terrain and conditions -- come with risks. One such risk is wildlife. Below we offer several short checklists for staying safe around different kinds of wildlife:
- When not in use, store your food in bear-proof containers, or inside your vehicle.
- Never leave garbage or open containers around your campsite.
- Hike in groups and make noise; let the bears know you're coming.
- If you see a bear, make a lot of noise and back away slowly. Never run.
- Do not try to approach an alligator.
- Avoid swimming at night.
- Alligators camouflage themselves along heavily vegetated shorelines. Avoid these areas.
- Never feed an alligator.
- Always wear closed-toe shoes when hiking.
- Wear long pants.
- Snakes come out most frequently at dusk and nighttime. Do not hike at night.
- Stay on established trails when hiking, and watch where you're stepping.
- Tuck pants legs into socks to keep bugs out.
- Wear insect repellant with DEET.
- Ticks lurk in tall grass and brush; wearing light clothes helps you spot ticks.
- Shake out clothing and bedding to expel unwanted spiders and scorpions.
- Avoid camping at the base of trees; these can be habitats for fire ants.
- Leave the perfume at home; it may attract bees.
Sometimes, in spite of all your careful attention to preparedness, accidents and emergencies happen anyway. On the next page, find your essential camping checklist for first aid and emergencies.